DL | XO | CDR Stacker | "Decadence and Decay In the Halls of Paradise, Pt. 1"

Posted on Tue Oct 26th, 2021 @ 1:30am by Commander James Stacker

Mission: A Distant Thunder
Location: CIO's Quarters | Deck 805 | Cold Station Theta
Timeline: August 24th, 2421

The lights were off in their quarters: she had gone to bed hours before, leaving him alone to watch the holoscreen.

At the moment it showed a recorded feed from Earth, going out on most Federation channels. A small box in one corner neatly indicated a six-hour delay between the time of broadcast and time of receipt. It was, after all, an important broadcast but not a critical one. Those higher channels and processing power were associated with things like military emergencies. Not President elections.

Behind the reporter - who, he had noted some time before, was wearing far too much makeup; were there already complaints going to the news bureau? - could be seen the skyline of the former capital of France. The broadcast having been made at night, streetlights and pedestrians were in abundance. Twinkling distant lights showed routine air traffic. A few ground vehicles could be seen. In short, all was well on the capital of the United Federation of Planets.

And what, pray tell, was the announcement? Only that one Aksel Ravnsson, former Starfleet Commodore, had been elected to the Presidency. In short it pointed to the man's worst possible nightmare. And to Trouble in Paradise.

Ice clinked in his glass as he swirled it and thought, brows furrowed as he regarded the silent holoscreen and the excited reporter without the contents registering. The uneasy direction of his thoughts caused him to unconsciously shift in his chair. The act of doing so caused shadows cast by the distant light of the nebula to shift, revealing his grey collar in more detail before they returned as he stilled.

Not all was well in the UFP, but how had things gotten quite this bad? He snorted. The sound echoed harshly in the living area. That's an easy one. Growth to prosperity, prosperity to decadence, decadence to complacency, complacency to decline. Decline to fall. You know this. You've seen this.

And he had seen it. Time and time and time again. Viery. The outer colonies. Small mining stations and tiny colonies. Places that were founded with the best of intentions, grew, prospered, thrived, but eventually hit periods of instability. Such as that which loomed like thunderous clouds over a Federation whose citizens went about their business, unaware of what loomed overhead.

It distantly registered that there was some part of him that wanted to despair, and express its despair, at the current state of things. It wanted to cry. To weep. To beat on the desk and throw things. Something - anything - that would vent his horrors at an uncaring galaxy. One that apparently gave little regard to the fact that a viper had been willingly allowed to slither into the henhouse.

Maybe the Vanguard had at least something right, he thought, briefly, as he thought back to the decades-old terrorist group and its manifesto. The sections that had railed against Federation decay and malignance. But no sooner had the thought taken form than it was dismissed. The Vanguard, and their ilk, were not the cure to the Federation's decadence and problems, and no amount of wishing otherwise would resolve this particular problem.

Not for the first time, he found himself wishing that Commodore Ivanova had been found. Maybe this situation wouldn't have gotten as far as it had were she still around, to expose the rot and corruption that had first pervaded Starfleet Intelligence before turning its attention to the Federation government. His eyes drifted to the window, looking out towards the nebula, at this new direction in his thoughts.

And all the while the light from the holoscreen continued to dance, subtly, on his face. The excited reporter continuing her announcement from six hours before.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Commander James Stacker
Executive Officer
Cold Station Theta